Memorial Day weekend is almost here, and if you’re like a lot of Minnesotans, that means you’ll soon be spending time on a boat or near the water. Hanging out on the beach or cruising around the lake can be a great way to spend the long weekend, but if you’re not careful, you can run afoul with the law. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the boating laws you’ll want to know if you’ll be boating this weekend or throughout the summer.
Boating Laws To Know
Here are some of the boating laws you’ll want to know before you hit the water this Memorial Day weekend in Minnesota:
Boating While Intoxicated
In Minnesota, the same blood alcohol concentration level that applies to vehicle drivers applies to boaters, meaning that if you are operating a boat with a BAC over 0.08, you could be arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. A first offense Boating While Intoxicated charge is similar to a first offense DWI, as it is considered a misdmeanor offense, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $1,000. You may also have your driving and boating licenses suspended for a period of time.
However, unlike vehicles, passengers and even the driver can consume alcohol on the boat and while it is in motion. That’s because open container laws do not apply on boats. A captain can legally consume alcohol while operating a boat, so long as they stay under the 0.08 BAC limit.
Police will be out on the waterways and at boat launches looking for inhebriated drivers, so make smart choices on the water this weekend.
Boating And Lifejackets
Minnesota requires that boats have at least one coast guard approved life jacket on board for every individual on the boat who is over the age of 10. All children under the age of 10 must wear a lifejacket at all times on the boat, unless they are below the top deck, aboard a charter with a licensed captain or in an anchored boat that is at an approved swimming location. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in signficant fines.
Operating A Boat
Minnesota has some specific regulations for the age a person needs to be in order to operate a boat, and it also depends on the horsepower of the engine. For example:
- There are no age restrictions on motorboats with 25 horsepower or less.
- For children less than 12 years old, there must be someone 21 years or older within reach of the controls for motorboats between 25-75 horsepower. This group cannot operate any boat over 75 horsepower.
- Children ages 12 to 17 can operate a watercraft with more than 25 horsepower if they have a watercraft operator’s permit or someone over the age of 21 within reach of the controls.
- For personal watercrafts, children under the age of 13 may not operate them, 13-year-olds may drive with someone at least 21 on board if they have a watercraft operator’s permit and are visually supervised by someone at least 21. A 14- to 17-year old may operate a personal watercraft if they have someone at least 21 on board the watercraft of a watercraft operator’s permit.
If you or someone you know runs into some trouble this Memorial Day weekend, whether on the water or on the roads, reach out to Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm today at (952) 224-2277.